Monthly Archives: June 2007

Phone Frenzies

We were driving in downtown Coral Gables last night a bit before seven pm, when we saw something very unusual: a long line of people queuing on the sidewalk. Understand that people just don't stand around much outdoors in South Florida in late June. It's too hot. And yet, here was a line halfway down the block, curving around to something we could not see. A book signing? Supermodels? Miami Dolphins? No. After we turned the corner, all was revealed: The AT&T/Cingular store. I'm guessing a horde of folks came by after work to buy an iPhone and were still there an hour or two later. (The looked too fresh to have been there all day.) When I came back around 8:30 pm there were still over a dozen people in the queue. Amazing.

More to my taste is this feature from AnandTech, Apple's iPhone Dissected: We did it, so you don't have to. Not that there's anything terribly surprising in there…

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 3 Comments

Highly Recommended: “The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters”

Suppose Jane Austen were alive today, did speed, and wrote a Steampunk James Bondish story set in the Victorian era but with an amateur tea-drinking female as the lead character. The result might be something like a tame version of Gordon Dahlquist's “The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters”.

I'd call it the thinking man's beach novel, only it's much too good. Apparently it took ten years to write — but secured a $2 million advance, which is astronomical for a first novel.

Dahlquist sounds like an interesting guy in this interview at Powells Books. And he reads blogs!

Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
Two favorites would be Firedoglake, a superb political blog run by Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith, and then GoFugYourself, run by the “tar-hearted” Jessica and Heather, which is superbly vicious.

Do not start this book late at night.

Posted in Kultcha | 3 Comments

Automobile IPv6 Considered Harmful

I read far too many mailing lists. But once in a while you see something that makes you sit up. Like this exchange on Nanog in a thread entitled “An IPv6 address for new cars in 3 years”:

>> … Looks like someone, somewhere intends to be live with Pv6
>> in 3-5 years. Off Topic: The privacy and security ramifications boggle
>> the mind….
>>
>
>Fully mobile, high speed botnets?

*bing*

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

Weird Florida News (Dead Chicken Edition)

Summer brings out the weird news, and Florida's is just a little weirder than most people's:

Man acquitted of assault with a dead chicken (via Flablog).

On Thursday, a jury acquitted the neighbor, Juan Fernando Carrasco, of hitting Shaffer in the head with a dead 4-pound chicken.

“I wasn't injured but I certainly felt it. He got my attention,” saidShaffer, 78.

The April 12, 2006, dispute between the two neighbors — separated by a 3-foot-high fence on Jane Lacy Lane, a dirt road of 2 1/2-acre lots in New Smyrna Beach — ended when Shaffer called a sheriff's deputy.

And when Carrasco refused to accept a plea agreement by the State Attorney's Office, the battery-with-a-dead-chicken case went to trial. On Thursday, a jury of four women and two men took 20 minutes to decide Carrasco was innocent of battery.

“Sounds like something you hear on 'Jay Leno' but it's not a joke,” Assistant State Attorney Larry Avalon argued. “Mr. Shaffer was hit with an object that has weight. That is battery.”

But Carrasco's attorney, Diego Handel, argued that the state's only evidence was Shaffer's testimony claiming Carrasco hit him with the dead chicken.

“It may be a case involving a dead chicken but it is extremely serious to Fernando (Carrasco),” Handel said. “The lack of evidence supports the conclusion that Fernando is not guilty. It's a situation of 'he said and they said.' “

After the trial, Shaffer said he was satisfied with the jury's decision.

“He had 14 months to worry about it and it cost him a bunch. That's enough,” Shaffer said. “It was his word against mine.”

One member of Carrasco's family called it the “alleged assault with a dead weapon.”

Update: Was it a battery hen?

Posted in Florida | 1 Comment

Legal Earthquake: US Supreme Court to Rehear Boumediene and Al Odah

This is a big deal.

The US Supreme Court has reversed its previous denial of rehearing in Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) and Al Odah v. U.S. (06-1196), two of the leading-edge Guantanamo detainee cases. Some details at SCOTUSblog.

The move required five votes, strongly suggesting that Justice Kennedy may have moved off the fence.

Previously, both he and Justice Stevens had voted against hearing the cases at all, meaning that only three Justices had voted in favor, an insufficient number for the cases to be heard.

But now there are five potential votes to save habeas corpus and uphold the rule of law against executive attempts to detain indefinitely, make up inadequate kangaroo-court-like procedures (and even torture, although that's not directly at issue in these cases).

The course of justice grinds on slowly… Here's a quick timeline from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Al Odah v. United States, filed jointly by CCR, co-counsel Shearman & Sterling LLP, and a number of other law firms in 2004, consists of eleven habeas petitions, including many of the first ones filed after the Supreme Court's Rasul decision.

The Boumediene appeal, filed by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in 2004 and heard with a case brought by Clifford Chance LLP, is on behalf of six Bosnian-Algerian humanitarian workers seized by the U.S. military in Sarajevo after Bosnian courts determined that a three-month investigation had unearthed no evidence to support their continued detention and ordered local authorities to release them.

Case Timeline

Both the Al Odah and Boumediene habeas corpus petitions were filed in July 2004, shortly after the historic Rasul v. Bush Supreme Court decision that affirmed the detainees' right to challenge their detention.

In January 2005, District Judge Joyce Hens Green held in Al Odah that detainees possess “the fundamental right to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment” and that certain detainees are protected by the Geneva Conventions. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon reached the opposite conclusion in Boumediene, ruling that the detainees possess no substantive rights to vindicate through habeas corpus. The two cases were consolidated and appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On February 20, 2007, two years after the cases were first appealed, a divided panel of three judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in the consolidated case that the Guantánamo detainees have no constitutional right to habeas corpus review of their detentions in federal court. Because the court also found the MCA eliminated any statutory right of access to the courts under habeas corpus, it dismissed their cases.

On March 5, 2007, CCR attorneys, along with co-counsel, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision that dismissed Al Odah and Boumediene and to hear the cases on an expedited schedule. Attorneys submitted an accelerated briefing schedule to ensure that the cases will be heard before the Supreme Court goes on summer recess; otherwise, the question of whether Guantanamo detainees still have the right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus might go unanswered until 2008.

On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court announced that it would not be hearing the cases of the Guantánamo detainees for the time being. The Court denied the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel's motion to hear the case with three justices dissenting and two issuing a statement that the detainees should exhaust the process set up by the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA).

Today's reversal overturns that April decision. What has changed since then? The main thing is that it has become increasingly obvious that the procedures being used in the Guantanamo trials are a farce. That comes mostly from the press — what we've seen from the DC Circuit is rather a refusal to address that issue. Which may be why the Supreme Court is finally reacting.

Or is the court just getting a little ahead of Mr. Dooley's predictions?

UPDATE: SCOUTS Blog has the following useful links:

We have posted all of the filings in these cases.

The original petition in Boumediene, filed March 5, is here, and Al Odah is here. Both were denied on April 2, with Justice Breyer authoring a dissent from denial here, and Justice Stevens and Kennedy writing here respecting the denial of cert.

The Boumediene petition for rehearing, filed April 27 and granted today, is here, and Al Odah is here. The Solicitor General's reply, filed June 19, is here.

Posted in Guantanamo | 1 Comment

Truth, the Final Frontier

I haven't been posting about the various GWB insanities regarding the Veep, Gonzales, the Prosecutors, etc. etc. because, well:

  • I'm busy
  • It's all too depressing
  • TPM & The Carpetbagger Report have been doing such a great job of it

Here's part of an especially good one from Thecarpetbaggerreport, The truth is apparently out of the question:

The White House “offer” to the Senate Judiciary Committee was fairly straightforward: if members wanted to talk to WH staffers about the prosecutor purge, the discussions had to be a) private; b) not under oath; and c) without transcripts. It’s that last one that never made any sense.

Indeed, the Bush gang never even tried to rationalize it. That is, until today.

The White House organized a conference call this morning with an official who certainly appeared to be Counsel Fred Fielding, who finally shed some light on why the president would make staffers available for private interviews, but only if there was no transcript of their remarks.

“Obviously, there has been a lot of discussion back and forth in that regard. The position that the president took and conveyed to the committees and the offer of compromise did not include transcripts. The accommodation was designed to provide information, not to appear to be having testimony without having testimony. One of the concomitants of testimony, of course, is transcripts.

“As far as the debate goes, often cited is that a transcript is not wanted because otherwise there would be a perjury trap. And, candidly, as everyone has discussed, misleading Congress is misleading Congress, whether it’s under oath or not. And so a transcript may be convenient, but there’s no intention to try to avoid telling the truth.” (emphasis added)

Got that? As Fielding sees it, if there’s a written record of what Bush’s aides say, senators might have proof if they lie. It’s preferable, then, to have no record and simply assume that White House staffers are being honest. And if you disagree with any of this, you prefer “confrontation” to cooperation.

He did not appear to be kidding.

571 more long days until it's over.

Posted in Politics: US: GW Bush Scandals | 1 Comment

Desegregation: Don’t Panic

Daily Kos not only says the glass is empty, but that we're entering the desert, SCOTUS: Segregation Now, Segregation Forever?.

But Eric Muller sees an oasis in the desert, In Seattle, Diversity Isn't A Black-And-White Issue:

It appears that what Seattle was really after was not “diversity,” but ensuring that no school would be excessively non-white. Perhaps there is a case to be made that compelling benefits flow from having adequate numbers of white students in all of a district's schools (as distinguished from the benefits that flow from true “diversity.”) But I don't think the school district made that case — and in any event, I'm pretty skeptical of the claim.

And at SCOTUSBlog, Tom Goldstein more or less agrees, Analysis: Justice Kennedy and a Warning Against Overreading the School Cases:

One reading of today’s decision in the race cases is that the Supreme Court has outlawed programs that seek to increase racial diversity in the schools. Justice Kennedy’s concurrence does not adopt that view, however. And because his is the fifth vote, it is controlling. The better view, I think, is that the Court today has come close to extending the Grutter model to the lower school context, holding that school districts may account for race as one factor among many in student placement.

I haven't had a chance to read the opinion with the necessary care, but this feels correct. The sky has not (yet) fallen.

Posted in Law: Constitutional Law | 1 Comment